Birth control is not a luxury. It’s basic healthcare.

by Haley Hine, Student Advocacy Fellow at the College of William & Mary

I first went on birth control when I was 17 years old. Since my first period, I experienced intense cramping and bleeding every month. I would often faint in class and have such heavy bleeding that it required me to change my super-sized tampon every 30 minutes. Being less than 100 pounds with an iron deficiency, this extreme loss of blood was incredibly unhealthy and worrisome.

Fast forward a few months and I am just starting my freshman year of college, 12 hours away from home, where I do not know anyone and am unfamiliar with my new town.

About three months in, I developed sleeping problems. I was diagnosed with high levels of intense insomnia and restlessness. On a regular night, I would dock two hours or less of sleep. I tried multiple natural changes in my schedule in an attempt to help but nothing seemed to work. I was put on clonazepam as an easy fix to the problem until specialists could figure out what the real cause was.

This was obviously troublesome as freshman year can be a hectic, busy and stressful time for many. Personally, it was even more of these things for me as I was away from any familiarity I had ever experienced in my life. It was difficult to make friends and keep conversations when I was running on little-to-know sleep every day. Further, my grades suffered as I would drift off in class and struggle to participate and focus.

After many visits to many different doctors and specialists over the year, specialists concluded that my issues were side-affects of my form of oral birth control. They decided to switch to a new brand of oral contraception with fewer hormones. This helped my sleep troubles to an extent but brought a return of cramps with it.

The restlessness continued into my sophomore year even with the new contraception. I knew I wanted to stay on the pill because I wanted to stay safe, now that I was sexually active but did not know how to balance that with my lack of sleep and intense cramps. It seemed like a zero-sum game. I chose to ask about an option B: another new form of birth control, an IUD.

Luckily, my family had a well-balanced socioeconomic status that enabled me to try these various forms of birth control. To others, this experience would have cost thousands of dollars along with multiple visits to various doctors and specialists, which takes a lot of time. Thankfully, my IUD was completely covered by my insurance.

Now that I have found a form of birth control that works for my body I am able to balance my sleep life, social life, academic life and my cramps. The thought that this opportunity could be taken away from others who are struggling just like I was is terrifying and sad.

Conservatives like Donald Trump are looking to roll back access to various forms of birth control through limiting insurance coverage.

I am pro-choice because I have found first-hand that one form of birth control does not work for everyone. I believe all Virginian’s deserve access to various forms of birth control and this is why we need to elect Ralph Northam and other progressives with strong track records of supporting birth control access. For the past three years, Ralph has fought for funding to make IUDs more accessible to young people and low-income people. I personally know how important this is to do as contraception of this type is the most effective yet the most expensive, making it difficult to access for the common Virginian. This is why I support Ralph Northam and believe he will help me make birth control access to Virginian’s a reality-Will you join me in voting for Ralph Northam to secure a more progressive future for our state?

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